[OPE-L:8175] Re: Re: Re: Marx and labour theory of value

From: Rakesh Bhandari (rakeshb@stanford.edu)
Date: Sat Dec 14 2002 - 13:28:26 EST

Paul C wrote

>  >
>>  > Labour time is value, but the actual labour
>>  > time of one individual only counts as value to the extent that that
>>  > individual spends the social average amount of time on a task.

Michael E replied

>  > That is the claim made by the LTV. You are now obviously understanding
>>  "socially necessary" as "socially average". What is the justification for
>>  this? Why not "socially minimum" or "socially median", e.g.? How is the
>>  qualification "socially" to be empirically or even theoretically specified?

Paul C replied in OPE 8171

>It is justified within the general problematic of classical political
>economy from Smith to Marx, which is that society has a certain quantity
>of labour that has to be distributed between different activities. In
>the absence of special conditions relating to agriculture - dealt with
>under the theory of differential rent - a 10% increase in the output
>of a given industry will require a 10% increase in labour allocated.
>In computing this increase in labour one is automatically performing
>an averaging operation over the labour of all the workers currently
>employed. If 100,000 are currently employed, we know that a 10% increase
>in output will require 10,000 new workers of average ability.
>The value of a commodity is just the change in the division of labour
>required to increase its production, and here the norm is to assume
>an average. The assumption of constant returns here consists of the
>minimal assumption. If one has explicit reason to think that constant
>returns will not apply then one does not take average labour to
>be regulating - hence Ricardos rent theory.

There is another question here: how is "socially" itself to be 
specified? What is the explicit reason for equating "social average 
amount of time" on a task with the "national amount of time on a 
task" other than that the latter is easier to calculate because data 
is organized in national i/o accounts? Why does it seem to be a 
common sense assumption in the determination of value magnitudes that 
the boundaries of  society are the same as the boundaries of a 
nation-state (see Michael Billig Banal Nationalism)? Doesn't this 
assumption--shared by most of the new quantitative Marxists--simply 
rule out a priori the theory of dependency developed by Enrique 
Dussel (Towards an Unknown Marx) and the theory of unequal exchange 
developed by Carchedi (Frontiers of Political Economy)?

Yours, Rakesh


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